Have you found yourself in situations where what is demanded of you sometimes actually goes against your grain! But it wouldn’t be prudent to escape the situation and hence for example, you will drag yourself to that networking event since you are now one of the senior managers. There are situations wherein as a leader, one may be required to make contributions that do not play to one’s strengths, may not come naturally to the person. Eg: say you are in a situation where a senior colleague needs to be dealt with tact and sensitivity- and this is not your forte- you have a preference for getting onto a job, getting things done and are known for your outspoken quality and ‘no nonsense’ attitude. However you are well aware that this situation calls for tact, patience and dialogue. Behaving in a way that shows unilateral focus on the task with little or no regard for the sensitivity of the person isn’t going to help the situation. In such cases we realise, a shift is needed. In Belbin Team Role terms, a shift to playing a manageable team role is required- ie contributions/ behaviours that don’t come naturally to us but when the situation demands, we could consciously work on providing what is needed. Now making contributions that don’t come naturally to us needs a conscious sense of self-discipline.
Three steps to effectively contribute what is demanded especially when it’s not your natural strength:
- Keep in mind the outcome that you need. Eg: in the above example, one may need the colleague to know that he is being listened to and getting his ‘buy in’ is crucial. Hence keeping this outcome in mind, one is better able to focus one’s attention on what is needed to enable this outcome. Knowledge of Belbin Team Roles further helps one identify which Team Role contributions are required in a given situation and accordingly address the same.
- Be aware of the time period for which you need to make the shift so that you are consciously aware that it isn’t something that you need to do forever and you don’t end up getting too worked up. Contributing in areas that are not our strengths- especially making behavioural contributions that are not our strengths (as in the example above) can be stressful because it requires conscious effort. Being aware that some discomfort is part of this exercise and that you are making the contributions for a limited time, can help one focus on giving one’s best and effectively manage the accompanying stress.
- Ask another for feedback. This is crucial. Ask your team members to give you feedback on how you’ve played your manageable role. This will go a long way in you polishing the contributions you can make whenever such a demand is placed on you. Since team members are aware that you are playing a manageable role (let them know!), there is also openness in providing feedback. Asking others for feedback also encourages them to make conscious efforts to polish their own contributions.
We’ve found in all our work and from experience that we are most engaged when we are playing to our strengths, and discovering our potential . However one’s job also has instances and short durations wherein a demand that doesn’t exactly align with our natural style is made upon us. The above points are for those instances. When the demand is over a longer period of time- our experience aligns with the Belbin theory that its best to collaborate with someone who has a natural preference for those behaviours/ contributions.